Recap: Southern Festival of Books

When I moved away from Nashville in August, I had no intention of returning anytime soon.  Although I valued my teaching experience and the friends I made there, the city and I have never been on the best of terms (another story for another time, perhaps).

And then the author lineup for the Southern Festival of Books was announced, and I wanted to kick myself for leaving just a few months too early.  Not only were there going to be panels and author signings featuring no less than a dozen of my favorite YA authors (you may have noticed from previous posts that I’m slightly addicted to young adult literature), but the great Katherine Paterson was also scheduled to make an appearance.

For those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure of listening to me ramble on about books, Katherine Paterson is the Newbery Award-winning author of my all-time favorite book, Bridge to Terabithia (in addition to many other beloved children’s books).  I reread this book pretty much every year, I read it aloud to my students when I was teaching, and I sing its praises to pretty much anyone who will listen.  I love that even though this book was written in the 70s, the main female character, Leslie, is strong, intelligent, and creative.  I love the emphasis on imagination, and I love the development of Jess and Leslie’s friendship.  So not only am I crazy obsessed with this book, but Katherine Paterson rarely makes public appearances.  So there was no way I was going to miss this.

So I booked my plane tickets, and last weekend I headed down south.  The trip did not have a great beginning (a hotel mix-up led to my almost being homeless for a night), but once I got downtown for the festival on Saturday, my mood improved immensely.  Here are some of the highlights of my time at the festival:

1. Katherine Paterson, obviously.  She and her husband recently wrote a story called The Flint Heart, from which she read to the audience before taking some questions.  By far my favorite moment was when someone asked her what it was like being a living legend, and she answered, “Well, it’s a lot better than being a dead one!”

After her talk, she signed books, and thanks to a Twitter contest, I was able to be at the front of the line for the signing.  I got my childhood copy of Bridge to Terabithia signed, and pretty much floated away from the table.

2. The panel on YA fantasy.  I had just finished reading Throne of Glass before the festival, so I was excited to hear from Sarah J. Maas, as well as the other authors (CJ Redwine and Karyn Henley).  The authors on this panel basically spent the time geeking out over Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and other fantasy stuff, so it was awesome for the nerdy audience members to see that the authors were kindred spirits.

3. Barbecue.  Several of Nashville’s food trucks were at the festival during lunch hours, and I was excited for one of the few things I like about the south, authentic barbecue.  A pulled pork sandwich from Slow & Low BBQ Bistro was perfect.

4. Sharon Creech.  Another children’s author whose books I will ALWAYS read.  Her books are hilarious and heartwarming, and she used to be a teacher and still does a lot with schools.  I’m looking forward to reading her latest book.

5. The Digital Bookmobile.  I found this incredibly intriguing, though I’m not going to say too much more about it here (stay tuned for an upcoming post on InfoSpace with more information!)

I could really go on and on, but I’ll limit my highlights to five.  Just know that there were many more authors I loved meeting and listening to, and this was an amazing experience.

Now some of you might be wondering why I just spent the last 600ish words gushing about books and authors.  This is supposed to be a blog about librarianship, isn’t it?  And libraries are about more than books these days!  Librarians do more than just read and recommend books!

All of this is true.  But here’s the thing: literacy is still REALLY important to me, because if kids can’t read, they can’t access the information that is out there, whether it’s in traditional print sources or on the internet.  So I’m always excited to see dynamic children’s authors like Sharon Creech and Katherine Paterson, who write books that kids WANT to read (I was so pumped to see so many enthusiastic kids at the festival, and it’s thanks to these amazing authors that they’re excited about reading).

Additionally, regardless of the future of libraries, I don’t think books are going to disappear entirely, so I think it’s important for librarians to read widely in order to help members find books they want to read.  Even though I went to the festival with certain authors in mind, I also had the opportunity to learn about and listen to a variety of new authors, and I came home with an even longer to be read list, full of new-to-me authors.  Without the exposure of the festival, I may not have found out about these books and authors.

So yes, my main motives for attending the Southern Festival of Books were selfish; I wanted to see a bunch of my favorite authors and meet my literary idol.  But I do think that attending the festival will help me to become a better librarian, because books and literacy are still a valuable part of librarianship, and being at the festival helped me expand my knowledge in ways that will benefit future library patrons.

Have you gone to any cool book festivals or conferences lately? Let me know!

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TBR Thursday: Teen Read Week

Let’s be real, friends: if I could get away with it, I would probably exclusively read YA novels.  So since this week is Teen Read Week, I thought I’d fill you in on a few teen books I can’t wait to read.

1. Wither, by Lauren DeStefano

A world where girls live until the age of 20, and boys live until 25.  I’m sure it’s a paradise.

2. Croak, by Gina Damico

Teen grim reaper with anger issues.  ‘Nuff said. (Ok, I can say a little more.  This is supposed to be HILARIOUS, plus I have a tendency to not read a lot of ‘boy’ books, and if I’m going to be a librarian, I need to read more widely [and yes, I realize I’m opening up potential controversy by even discussing the ‘gender’ of books.  Another topic for another day.])

3. Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

This has been on my radar for a while (especially since the movie is coming out in February), but I just hadn’t gotten around to it yet.  Then I was lucky enough to hear these ladies speak at the Southern Festival of Books this past weekend, and they were so hilarious and genuine, this shot to the top of my list.

4. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher

Not a happy book, but one that is, unfortunately, increasingly important in society.  Narrated by a girl who committed suicide, and a boy who is one of the reasons why she did it.

5. Eve and Adam, by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate

Summer job for a 16 year old girl: create the perfect boy. YES PLEASE.

What’s up next on your TBR list? Any YA books I should have on my radar? Let me know!

caturday (4)

Good morning!  As I mentioned, I’m in Nashville right now stalking listening to some of my favorite authors at the Southern Festival of Books.  I thought it would be appropriate to feature one of Nashville’s famous cats:

This is Gnash, a saber-tooth tiger and the mascot for the Nashville Predators

Happy weekend!

TBR Thursday: Southern Festival of Books

Happy Thursday, friends.  This weekend I will be in Nashville for the Southern Festival of Books, so I thought I’d share with you a few books I can’t wait to read written by authors I’ll see this weekend.

1. Pure, by Julianna Baggott

Dystopian YA?  Yes please.  Also, requiring everyone to be trained as a soldier or be used for target practice, except those super special healthy people?  What could go wrong?

2. The Great Unexpected, by Sharon Creech

I actually got an ARC of this at BEA, but I gave it to a former student who shares my love of Sharon Creech, so I have yet to read it!  It sounds a little different from most of Creech’s work, with a little element of magic thrown in, but I’ll read anything she writes, because it tends to be amazing.

3. Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous, by Kathryn Williams

I haven’t read anything by Kathryn Williams, but this looks like a cute contemporary YA novel.  Plus, I love lists, so the title caught my attention.

4. Defiance, by CJ Redwine

A book that examines gender issues and features a kick-butt female main character who knows how to survive in the wilderness and use a sword.  Awesome.  I’m going to try my hardest not to come home with a suitcase full of books, but I might have to break down and buy this one.

5. Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys

Not to be confused with that OTHER book with the words ‘shades of gray’ in its title, this one is actually about a Lithuanian girl during Stalin’s purges.  I love all things Eastern Europe, and I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, so I think this will be a nice change of pace.

You can find out more about the Southern Festival of Books here (plus I’m sure I’ll have lots to say after I get back!).  In the meantime, do you have any recommendations for my TBR list?  Let me know!